Cablegate: Chad/Sudan: Rounding Up Darfur Rebels

DE RUEHNJ #0564/01 1870923
R 060923Z JUL 07




E.O. 12958: N/A


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1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The funeral and associated traditional
mourning customs for President Deby's son tied up key players
in Ndjamena, with the result that the Center for Humanitarian
Dialogue (CHD) still does not have Chadian approval for a
flight to take Darfur rebels to Mombasa. CHD is focusing its
efforts on flying field officers from the splinter groups of
the SLM to Mombasa, while keeping in close contact with the
external political leaders and hoping to rope them in as
well. CHD sees JEM and other groups as less important. A
local JEM official told us that JEM continues to endorse the
effort to pull the SLM together but does not predict success.

2. (SBU) CHD's Theo Murphy was in Chad for several days
attempting to get Chadian approval for SLM field officers to
travel from Darfur to Abeche and for an aircraft to pick them
up in Abeche to take them to the CHD-organized conference in
Mombasa. The timing was difficult because President Deby and
his senior leadership have been traveling (AU summit) or
consumed with the funeral for Deby's eldest son Brahim
(murdered July 2 in France, buried July 4 in Ndjamena, with
Qadhafi and CAR's President Bozize in attendance). Murphy
was armed with a request (or at least acquiescence) from the
UN/AU. He expects the approval to be forthcoming as soon as
the higher-ups in Chad have a moment to spare. (Comment:
Alternatively, CHD is being given a polite brush-off. We
should know within a few days. Even with tepid UN/AU cover,
there remain factors that could give the Chadians cold feet
about CHD's transporting Darfurian rebels across Chad: to
wit, worries about Libya, Sudan, and Eritrea. End Comment.)

3. (SBU) In a meeting with Ambassador Wall July 2, and
subsequently in conversations with poloff, Murphy provided
his read-out on alignments within the much-slintered SLM. On
July 3, JEM's representative in Ndjamena Tajaddin Niam and a
former SLM heavyweight, Adam Bakhit, separately called on the
Ambassador to say farewell, and added a few insights.

CHD Analysis of SLM

4. (SBU) Murphy, who spent three weeks among the rebels in
Darfur and is in constant telephonic contact with them, broke
down the SLM rebels roughly into five groups. Any
categorization of SLM rebels was artificial, he said, because
allegiances were fluid and leaders' power waxed or waned
quickly. There was a trend toward ethnic polarization, with
the Zaghawans flocking to one side and other ethnicities
defining themselves in opposition to the Zaghawans. CHD's
objective was to work from the field commanders "up" rather
than from the external leaders "down," as the field
commanders were closer to realities on the ground and were
more amenable to compromise. However, the effort in Um Rai
(in rebel territory) to heal the SLM divisions, an effort
that was entirely field-based, failed because, among other
reasons, it did not adequately take the external leaders into
consideration -- so CHD was not going to make that mistake.
Murphy said he had started with Abd al-Wahid al-Nur's
fighters in western Jabal Marra, got them on board, then got
the rest of the fighters on board. The hard part, ever
since, had been the external leaders and waffling UN/AU
leadership. The fighters are ready to get on the plane.

5. (SBU) According to Murphy, by far the most important SLM
group at present, in terms of fighting men on the ground, is
the Zaghawan force in northern Darfur (sometimes known as
SLM-Unity) commanded by Abdallah Yahya. This group, Murphy
said, is strong in the field but weak in political
leadership. Sharif Harir, a Zaghawan professor in Norway,
had gravitated recently toward Abdallah Yahya and aspired to
this political leadership but had proved to be a divisive
figure at Um Rai. (Murphy preferred that Sharif Harir not
come to Mombasa.) Another Zaghawan would-be leader, Adam Ali
Shoggar, had now joined Abadallah Yahya in the field. Murphy
said that the true political leader of this group should be
Sulayman Jammous, an older figure revered among Darfurians.
However, Sulayman Jammous was confined by the UN in Kadugli,
where he had been taken for medical treatment. Meanwhile,
Murphy said, Abdallah Yahya had traveled to Asmara and now
been for some weeks in Tripoli, waiting for a check from
Qadhafi (Abdallah Yahya had told Murphy by telephone that the
Libyans were not holding him but that he was "waiting" --
which in the Qadhafi context, Murphy assumed, meant waiting
for money). Murphy worried that Abdallah Yahya was a
political neophyte and, as the weeks lengthened in Asmara and
Tripoli, he was losing touch with the field. Meanwhile,
Sharif Harir had been holding in Asmara.

6. (SBU) The Fur, Murphy said, were split in two directions

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by Fur external leaders Abd al-Wahid al-Nur (in Europe) and
Ahmad Abd al-Shafi (in Kampala). Abd al-Wahid had a more
significant fighting force (western Jabal Marra) and greater
popular following than Abd al-Shafi (small force southeast of
Jabal Marra). Abd al-Shafi was working with Fur elder
statesman Ahmad Ibrahim Diraij in London to build a
Darfur-wide following. It seemed likely that Abd al-Wahid
and Abd al-Shafi, now intense rivals, would not both show up
in Mombasa. A fourth grouping was led by Khamis Abdallah
Abakar, a Masalit who had holed up in Ndjamena and boycotted
Um Rai. He has a small force on the Chadian border near
Adre. Khamis Abdallah had been in Asmara in recent weeks and
was finding it difficult to get an exit visa (effectively
held there against his will). Finally, Murphy discerned a
fifth grouping, which had a significant non-Zaghawan force in
the northern area but not an announced leader. The most
significant personage in this group, "the unannounced
leader," was Sulayman Marajan (from the Maidob). A Zaghawan,
Jar al-Nabi, was also noteworthy in this grouping.

7. (SBU) Murphy said that he had been in continual contact
with non-SLM groups, including the JEM, NMRD, and Arab
rebels. CHD's inclination was not to invite them now to
Mombasa, even as observers, but to "keep it organic," wait to
see if the conference was moving in the right direction, and
perhaps bring them in later. He characterized the JEM as a
significant player, with "some" fighters on the ground, near
the Chadian border at Tine. He saw the NMRD, which split off
from JEM in 2004, as, effectively, a Chadian creation,
operating only in Chad, with Chadian weapons; many of the
NMRD fighters, he believed, had filtered back into Darfur to
join Abdallah Yahya. The Arab rebels, who now give
themselves the name URFF (United Revolutionary Force Front),
he believed to be a minor element. The URFF and NMRD share
an office in Ndjamena and claim to have an alliance with
Khamis Abdallah.

JEM Perspective

8. (SBU) When JEM's Tajaddin Niam called on the Ambassador
July 2 to bid farewell, he emphasized, as he had in his June
20 meeting with the Ambassador (reftel), the importance of
unifying SLM ranks and getting on with political resolution
of the Darfur conflict. JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim was "in
the field" (Darfur) and JEM vice president Bahar Idriss Abu
Garda and JEM "foreign minister" Ahmad Togoud were still in
Tripoli. Tajaddin said he was keeping a low profile in
Ndjamena -- he believed Deby would not ask him to leave if he
lay low. He anticipated going to Mombasa with a small JEM
team as observers. He thought that success at the CHD
conference would be difficult to achieve but that it was
essential to try.

9. (SBU) Tajaddin saw Abd al-Shafi's cosying up to Diraij as
the beginning of yet another wedge in the SLM. Abd al-Wahid
was in Paris shouting that he was the SLM leader, while
Sharif Harir, "under civil detention in Asmara" (with Khamis
Abdallah) was shouting the same. "At least when you are in
Tripoli you are free to leave." Tajaddin saw the hand of
Sudan in these SLM divisions. Something that so directly
served the Sudanese government's interests must be concocted
by it. The result, he said, was that the international
community was now beginning to see the rebels as being as
much a factor in the suffering of the Darfurian people as the
government of Sudan was. Eritrea had also played a nefarious
role in dividing the SLM. The trouble with the SLM was that,
from the beginning, it had not had mature, experienced
political leaders. John Garang had organized the SLM on a
tribal basis, in contrast to the JEM, which from the
beginning had been based on institutions and not
personalities and tribes. The Ambassador pointed out that
the top three personalities in the JEM were Zaghawan, as was
Tajaddin, but Tajaddin claimed, in response, that most of
JEM's officials below that level, and eight out of nine JEM
heads of office in Europe, were not Zaghawan.

Adam Bakhit

10. (SBU) Adam Bakhit, a formerly important SLM commander
who has milled around in Ndjamena for several months, also
asked to pay farewell on the Ambassador July 2. He said that
he was chief of staff to Khamis Abdallah, who, he said, was
now chairman of the recently-formed SNRF (Sudanese National
Redemption Front, not to be confused with the defunct
National Redemption Front, which had been formed in June 2006
and had included JEM). Bakhit said that five groups had
joined their forces in the SNRF and had now moved across the
border into Sudanese territory near Tine: the SLM faction
under Khamis Abdallah (Masalit), NMRD under Jibril Abd

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al-Karim (Zaghawan), URFF Arab group under its chairman
al-Zubaydi (Ibrahim Ahmad Abdullah Ja'dallah, nicknamed
al-Zubaydi) and chief of staff Yasin Yusuf Abd al-Rahman, a
Kordofan group under Muhammad Bilayl, and a Kush group under
Abd al-Majid Muhammad Durshab. He said that Adam Ali Shoggar
had now teamed up with Khamis Abdallah -- that, in fact, he
had left Shoggar "at the border" before coming to Ndjamena to
see the Ambassador. He said he had just spoken to Abdallah
Yahya in Tripoli and urged him not to sign any agreement
there with Qadhafi protege Osman Bushra, a Darfur rebel who
was always "playing Qadhafi's dirty games." He insinuated
that Sudan was in the process of "buying off" JEM's Khalil
Ibrahim, pursuing a strategy of dividing the rebels which
would only ensure that the war continued indefinitely. He
was highly critical of Sharif Harir, Ahmad Abd al-Shafi, and
Abd al-Wahid al-Nur as each pursuing personal ambition at the
expense of the Darfurian people.

11. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

© Scoop Media

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